You know, the featureless, quiet one, who comes to family gatherings and is always polite, yet does little more than fill a seat at the table. He never seems to have a girlfriend, despite nothing necessarily being wrong with him. Occasionally other family members ponder if he might be secretly gay, living a more vibrant life than he lets on out of fear of familial rejection, either real or imagined. He has obscure, if remarkably boring jobs. Conversations with him never venture out of solidly distant small-talk. Nothing you wouldn't say to a stranger you're stuck under a bus stop with on a rainy day.
Mine died today. He got struck by a car while pulling out of an inspection station and was killed instantly.
My brother was the one to tell me. He called me several hours ago, saying that the cops had called him with vague information: Something was wrong with our grandmom, but she's ok. They wanted to tell him in person, whatever it was. Something was also wrong with our uncle, but that seemed almost an aside. I assumed from my secondhand information that our g-mom had had some sort of old-person accident and since they couldn't get ahold of that uncle, they started calling further. Our aunt is currently driving down from NYC to stay with her. My dad was 3 hours from his destination in Florida (he would have just been arriving for the beginning of a few month stay), and will have to make arrangements to come right back up.
My brother seemed really shaken when he gave me real deal after arriving at our g-mom's house and getting it all from the cops. I didn't even know what to say. I don't know if that was more the effect of the atmosphere and oddness of the way the unraveling went down, needing to be there with all the cops trying to be sympathetic, or simple family grief. All I could say was "This is so weird. I'm so surprised.", which is fairly accurate. Surprised, yes. Upset? I don't know how to be upset over a man I never knew. Sure, I used to see him 3 or 4 times a year growing up. Maybe as much as once a year for the past 10 years, though often less. If you asked me a question about this uncle, I doubt I could answer anything more than a basic physical description and style of dress.
I'm afraid to go to this funeral. I'm afraid to be the only one there not crying.